It was at a world famous location, the New York Stock Exchange, that the Armenian American Health Professionals Organization (AAHPO) of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut held a well-attended, successful fundraiser on Nov. 6. Two worthy and important projects were the recipients of the proceeds—AAHPO’s Voskevan Clinic in Armenia and the Armenian Eye Care Project, which has already provided free eye care to 20 percent of Armenia’s poorest people.
The enthusiastic crowd of more than 150, which weaved in and out of America’s capitalistic center, was warmly welcomed by AAHPO Board vice president Dr. Arthur Kubikian, standing on a platform high above the famous hall. Tireless AAHPO Board president Dr. Lawrence Najarian, in striking a “symbolic bell” rather than the stock exchange’s opening bell, declared that “we stand ready to help provide the basic human right to good health for our brothers and sisters.”
Giving just a few examples of the impact the donations make, he revealed that $1,000 buys insulin for 100 diabetics for one year in Armenia; $1,000 also services an entire Armenian village with a dental-mobile with two dentists and two staff for 30 days. In the Voskevan village, very close to Azerbaijan, he announced that a seven-room clinic will replace the decaying, bombed-out kindergarten currently used to provide medical and dental services to 4,000 poverty-stricken people.
In this country, he pointed out that in three New Jersey counties, in collaboration with the North Hudson Community Action Corporation, AAHPO has provided free medical care to any Armenian adult and child with no insurance and unable to pay. Donations have also been earmarked for AAHPO’s public education programs, including the Diabetes Awareness Day on in New Jersey and the medical alerts on the AAHPO.org website.
Another recipient of the contributions is the tele-medicine initiative in collaboration with Armenia Fund USA which uses the internet “to collaborate with and train medical professionals in the most remote areas of Armenia,” Najarian noted.
A congratulatory message from Armenia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Garen Nazarian, and read by deputy permanent representative, Lilit Toutkhalian, related that “programs in Armenia and for Armenia are of special importance since improved and modern medical services in Armenia require a cohort of well-educated, dedicated professionals who can put Armenia on the map of the world’s advanced medical societies and contribute to the wellbeing of the Armenian people.”
Dr. Roger Ohanesian, the dedicated head of the Eye Care Project in Armenia, detailed the monumental accomplishments of the program. “More than 50 ophthalmologists who have supported us have taught and performed surgeries in Armenia. In addition, Armenian doctors have been trained in the U.S. on a year-long fellowship. When they’ve returned, we’ve made sure they had all the needed equipment, and they established specialty clinics,” Ohanesian said with obvious pride. “The goal was also to make the ophthalmology departments in Armenia self-sufficient.”
One of the greatest achievements of the Eye Care Project has been the Mobile Eye Hospital, which is equipped with a full operating room and two examination rooms, and has made four rotations throughout Armenia, servicing almost 350,000 patients.
Twenty percent of Armenia’s population has been examined, Ohanesian announced proudly. “Now other Armenians have built eye clinics in regions outside Yerevan—in Gyumri, Osterak, Garagunik, and Karabagh—and are seeing patients in a similar model to what we have done. Now we don’t have to go to these areas. They are becoming self-sustaining,” he said, adding, “the Eye Care Project has been so successful that other countries and the U.S. send medical residents to Armenia for pathological training.”
During the festive evening, guests enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction, which was held under the direction of Dr. Aram Cazazian and featured donated gifts.
The hardworking volunteers whose work brought the event to a successful fruition included Drs. Armand Asarian, Garbis Baydar, Aram Cazazian, Knarig Khatchadurian, Tsoline Kojaoghlanian, Arthur Kubikian, and Louiza Puskulian Kubikian. Also in the dedicated group were Suzy Davidkhanian, Kathy Feredjian, Saro Hartounian, Lucy Hayrabedian, Lory Karakashian, Nadine Koobatian, Judith Lee, Lori McCann, Christina Najarian, and Magda Najarian.